Crystal Core of the Oceanic Emperor Whale
"Damn it, I was only teasing you. I didn't think you'd actually believe it!" Marolyt said as he slapped the back of Leguna's head.
"Hehehe," Leguna laughed shamelessly, "Nice to see you, Sir."
"Alright, kid, even though fighting Alissanda for my disciple was a stupid thing to do, at least you didn't let me down."
Marolyt said it in a not quite insulting, yet not quite complimentary, way.
"Are you hot? Let me fan you." Leguna stood up and smiled as he fanned Marolyt.
"Buzz of, sheesh! You want to chill this old body of mine? Isn't the weather cold enough already?" the old man scolded, though he could not prevent a slight smile from creeping onto his lips.
He was a saint-ranked expert, but his unconventional actions made those around him feel more disdain for him than admiration. For all the mandatory respect he commanded thanks to his strength, this was the first time someone was sucking up to him, and he discovered he rather liked it.
"Hehehe, I was just too happy to see you, Sir," Leguna smiled slyly, "Why is Lisana your disciple?"
"I spent a few days with Master Marolyt when I was younger. He planted a kind of impetus seed in me that let me train in impetus and taught me swordsmanship," Lisana explained.
"Why have I not heard about this before?" Leguna asked.
The title of Disciple of Galestorm Swordsaint would definitely scare quite a few people. The old madman was really terrifying, in both person and legend.
"I was just a girl from a fishing village. The best I can claim is to have had a fortunate encounter with the old sir. I didn't dare babble about it. I can only do that once master acknowledges me," Lisana answered.
"How honest!" Leguna commented.
"Hmph, don't think you can mess with her just because she's honest," Marolyt said as he delivered another slap to the back of Leguna's inviting head, "My disciple may not be a gifted, but she has more talent than you!"
"Really?" Leguna said, somewhat unwillingly.
"Just do the math. She woke to impetus just four years ago, but she already has 14 strata. How much stronger are you? If not for Senior Gahrona's legacy, she'd be stronger than you!" Marolyt boasted proudly.
The knights present nodded firmly as well, pride evident in their eyes. They'd been with her for most of those four years and knew personally how quickly she'd grown. She had originally only barely possessed the qualification to be enlisted in the brigade, now she was one of the strongest members, just a half-step away from becoming one of only a literal handful of high-order knights.
"You're too kind, master. I only grow strata quickly. My actual strength can't compare to Mister Leguna. He beat Saron back alone," Lisana humbled.
"Heh! That's what bugs me. I know how strong the brat is, and I know he doesn't have it in him to do that. Something else is going on, what trick or cheat did you pull you're not telling anyone?" said Marolyt.
"Is there anything I could eat to increase make myself stronger?" Leguna countered weakly.
"Tch, I know something's off about this. But I'll deal with that later!--" He turned to Lisana. "--Lass, you don't need to be discouraged. Your abilities are slightly lacking only because you haven't had proper instruction. Letting you learn the third-rate moves of the military is a huge waste. I just need a year with you and you'll beat this beat up and down the coast!"
"Do you really think so little of me that you came all this way just to insult me?" Leguna asked, his face pairing indignation and resignation beautifully.
"My ass!--" Marolyt slapped that inviting ball again. "--I came to look for you, not insult you."
Marolyt paused a moment, and Leguna's face darkened.
"If you're asking me to leave Annie alone, you need not waste your breath. I will not."
The swordsaint frowned, his eyes burning slightly, but Leguna was still going.
"I know it was my fault you had to take her away without telling me. But I will not let it happen again. I won't let Annie go no matter what anyone says or does, and I have a sneaking suspicion she feels the same. We have nothing to say about it, nor would forcing words do anyone any good. I know I can't even begin to hope to match you in a fight, but I'll fight you until my heart stops beating."
Leguna carefully crafted his speech, with what little oral acumen he had, to be dramatic and hoped it would touch the people listening in. He even managed to let his eyes redden slightly. When his eyes met Annie's father's, however, his blood cooled in his veins.
Marolyt's face stared at him coldly, stiffly, as if carved out of granite. His finger rounded Azureflash's handle so tightly they were as white as Leguna thought his own face had to be. His cheeks' and neck's slightly wrinkling skin was pulled taut over bulging muscles and veins. Leguna was certain that had there not been so many witnesses his head would already be rolling.
Had he said something wrong? Why was the old man so furious? Sure he'd just told him, in front of several hundred people, not in as many words, that he could go shove his fatherly concern where the sun never shone, and that his daughter would eventually belong to a brat he only just less than despised. But surely that was hardly a reason to so fervently wish to the dashing young man who'd just told him that to burst into flames?
The cold silence stretched out for several minutes, then Marolyt's wax-white fingers released their grip on his sword, only to slam into Leguna's head.
"Motherf*cker! Can't you wait until I finish speaking?!" Marolyt cursed, "Have you lost what little manners you used to have? I never said anything about Annie, but you just go jumping in and spewing all that dog-shite? I didn't know you were that tired of living!"
"Owowow, okay... What did you want?" Leguna yelped, rubbing the rapidly growing bulge on his head gingerly.
"I came to give you a message to pass on to Annie if you ever see her again," Marolyt continued, the fire in his eyes slowly fizzling.
Why didn't he just tell her himself?
"This," Marolyt said, taking out a small, finely jeweled box.
It was small, but covered in many magical formations. What could possible merit being stored in such a magnificent box?
Leguna stretched out his hand.
"Don't touch it!" Marolyt barked as he jerked the box away, "Inside is the crystal core of an emperor whale I killed in the central sea."
"An emperor whale?!"
The words rumbled through the crowd more as gasps than actual words. Emperor whales stood at the top of the maritime food chain, in the central sea, at least. Some stories claimed they were a full one hundred meters long, super fiends that could rival even the dragons in raw power. If Marolyt had killed one… Well, some supposed, wasn't that to be expected of someone who could be called the empire's sword?
"Why are you giving her something like that?" Leguna asked puzzledly.
He had heard about emperor whales a few times. Few people bothered hunting them, not least because they were so immensely powerful, but because little of use could be harvested from their corpses. Only their crystal core had value. Core's power were proportional to their originating fiends' power, so the more powerful the beast, the more powerful, and valuable and useful its core. And the emperor whale was certainly plenty powerful. Not to mention that their cores were generally water attribute cores.
Their chores were so powerful, so rare, and so useful, that they were revered and treated as legendary materials. Even myth-realm magi alchemists treated them gingerly, often preferring to use them over many other chores to use in their forgings. Not just that, but it also took myth-level magi to be able to work the core into anything. They, as everyone was painfully aware, were phenomenally rare. So rare, in fact, that most likely there currently didn't exist even one of them in the entire world. If one did, he would surely be a walking skeleton, so long ago a new one had emerged.
"Why? It's all because of you!" Marolyt barked, his eyes seeing the inside of his head for a moment.
Had he just been unjustly blamed for something again?
"What? Don't tell me you forgot my beloved daughter gave half her glacial essence to you two years ago!"
"Of course I do!" Leguna snapped before the memory clawed its way back to him, "How could I forget? I'll remember that until the day I die!"
"Oh you will, will you? Her growth has been dramatically slowed because of that. The only reason she hasn't broken through another two or three strata by now is you!"
"Ohh, that was what you were talking about..." Leguna said, admitting his complicity.
"Given my blood, my daughter has no choice but to be among the best of the world, if not the best. Breaking into the high-order should have been something that happened in her sleep years ago. Instead, because she bothered with a brat like you, she's been stuck in the mid-order for years! I went out hunting for an emperor whale core so I can solve that little issue of hers. You're going to give this to her and she's going to absorb it and get back the business of being the strongest in the world."
Leguna nodded serious, a chicken would be proud of his pecking skills. Normal water attribute cores would be useless to Annelotte, only such an amazing core could do anything for her. That said, even impeccable high-order magi would find it hard to absorb. That said, it should be no problem for her.
"Why don't you give it to her yourself?" Leguna asked as he scratched his head.
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